HANOVER — The first Upper Valley, Lake Sunapee Area Go Red For Women Luncheon at the Hanover Inn was a huge success, said the event chairwoman.
More than 300 attendees wore red on Friday in support of the cause.
"It was beautiful. It was just a beautiful sea of red. It was really amazing," said Kathryn Underwood, president and CEO of Ledyard National Bank.
"The men had red ties and red socks; the woman were dressed in red dresses and suits."
Underwood said she has been involved with the American Heart Association for the past 25 years, since her husband was diagnosed with a heart condition in this 30s.
But it wasn't until about 10 years ago that she became aware of the association's Go Red For Women campaign, which seeks to raise public awareness of women's heart attack and stroke risks, she said.
The Go Red For Women Luncheon gathered prominent executives, philanthropic and medical industry representatives and women from the community to fund raise for research in the area of heart disease and stroke. It was also a celebration of the movement and an educational event for the community.
"We had a sold-out crowd of prominent women and some men. It was a very successful event. A lot of newly educated people on heart disease and, more importantly, the prevention of it," Underwood said. "It's always a surprise to people when they learn heart disease kills more woman than all cancers combined. One in three of them will die from heart disease."
When Underwood lived in Maine, she was involved with the Go Red For Women campaign, but was surprised to find that few people in New Hampshire knew about the campaign when she moved to Hanover in 2005.
Her employer, Ledyard National Bank, started helping her spread the word through sponsored events, she said.
Heart disease is often thought of as a men's health concern, and many of the signs of a heart attack that people know of present in men usually, Underwood said. What many people don't know is that a heart attack can present very differently in a woman. A woman might just be fatigued, have flu-like symptoms or think she is experiencing indigestion.
Misconceptions about women and heart disease were once so pervasive that when the Go Red movement started many years ago it had many initiatives geared toward medical professionals, Underwood said.The good news is reducing risk factors, whether you are a man or a woman, can make a big difference, Underwood said.
"Eighty percent of heart attacks and strokes can be reduced by eliminating one risk factor," she said, like stopping smoking.